An economic analysis of adult obesity: results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

J Health Econ. 2004 May;23(3):565-87. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2003.10.003.


This paper examines the factors that may be responsible for the 50% increase in the number of obese adults in the US since the late 1970s. We employ the 1984-1999 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, augmented with state level measures pertaining to the per capita number of fast-food and full-service restaurants, the prices of a meal in each type of restaurant, food consumed at home, cigarettes, and alcohol, and clean indoor air laws. Our main results are that these variables have the expected effects on obesity and explain a substantial amount of its trend.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Models, Econometric
  • Obesity / economics*
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance
  • Restaurants
  • Risk-Taking*
  • United States / epidemiology